China slams Abe over interview comments
AFPBEIJING -- China sharply criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday for telling a U.S. newspaper that Beijing had a “deeply ingrained” need to challenge its neighbors over territory.
February 23, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Abe, visiting the United States for talks with President Barack Obama, told the Washington Post in an interview published Thursday that China uses disputes with Japan and others to shore up its domestic support.
Tensions between the Asian giants are growing over rival claims to a group of small islands in the East China Sea that the Chinese call the Diaoyus and the Japanese refer to as the Senkakus.
Beijing is also at odds with several Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, over islands in the South China Sea.
China's confrontational stance risked eventually harming its economy and scaring off foreign investors, Abe said.
“Such behavior is going to have an effect on their economic activity at the end of the day,” the paper quoted him as saying.
“In the case of China, teaching patriotism (is equivalent to) teaching anti-Japanese sentiment,” he added.
Beijing fired back, with foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei saying outsiders have no right to criticize how China works.
“Only Chinese people have the right to speak about whether China's political system and development strategy is suitable,” he told a regular briefing Friday.
“The great renaissance of the Chinese people cannot be obstructed by anyone,” he added, saying that Beijing had demanded a clarification.
Hong was earlier quoted by the state-run Global Times newspaper as saying Chinese officials were “shocked” at Abe's comments.
“It's rare that a country's leader would brazenly distort facts, attack its neighbor and instigate confrontation among countries in the region,” Hong said, according to the paper.